3 Incredible Alternatives To A Traditional African Safari
When traveling around Africa, spotting the continent's diverse wildlife in their natural habitats is one of the most breathtaking sights to witness. Observing majestic elephants, graceful giraffes, herds of zebra and water buffalo grazing the African plains or wading though ponds and watering holes to take a drink is truly a one of a kind experience.
Typically, you would climb into an open-air safari truck or all-terrain vehicle and bounce your way down rocky dirt roads, through endless national parks and wildlife reserves in search of a glimpse of 'The Big Five'. While this is the traditional safari experience, local tour companies are beginning to offer more eco-friendly alternatives to this iconic African adventure activity. If you're looking for a way to reduce your own carbon footprint while exploring Africa's jungles, plains, savannahs, and deltas, this list should give you some good ideas.
Walking Safari in Lake Naivasha National Park | KENYA
What better way to offset your carbon footprint then by actually walking your way through a National Park? This walking safari is one of the most memorable experiences you can treat yourself to. Not only are you using your own two feet to explore instead of contributing to the harmful emissions released from safari vehicles, but also you get to be that much closer to the animals and gorgeous wildlife in the National Park.
With a local guide accompanying you through the park, you can wander right up to peaceful baby giraffes grazing in the fields. You can walk by a herd of zebra on their way to Lake Naivasha. You can see exotic birds and insects up close. When you're not in a safari vehicle, all you hear are the peaceful sounds of nature humming all around you. The guide will take you through specified trails in the park, so there's no chance of getting lost, which also helps from further disrupting the natural ecosystems of the reserve lands.
Gorilla Trekking in Bwindi Impenetrable Forest | UGANDA
Spending an hour or so in the company or our closest relative species is an indescribable experience. The trek into the jungle isn't easy and you best be prepared to get your hands dirty. Grasp vines and branches to support yourself as you careen down a path hacked out fresh by the park rangers in front of you, and be prepared to fall more than once as you try to find stable ground underfoot.
Once you arrive to the gorilla's lunch spot of choice though, you instantly forget all the work it took to get there. Baby gorillas are swinging on tree branches right overhead and Mama gorilla is munching on her leaves less than 3 feet away from you. They seem not to have a care in the world and are totally relaxed in your presence, almost as if you're not even there. Talk about an awesome adventure! The park rangers are skilled at ensuring everyone gets up close and personal with the gorillas (thought still from a safe distance) so no one misses out. This trek, though strenuous, is an absolute must-do activity!
Mokoro Boat Ride & Sunset Safari in the Okavango Delta | BOTSWANA
The Okavango Delta in Botswana stretches close to 15,000 square kilometers and is home to thousands of animals, birds, and other unique wildlife. Named one of the seven Natural Wonders of Africa in 2013, this reed and lily-filled oasis is the perfect place to truly 'get lost' in the wilderness. Local Polers will gracefully guide your Mokoro boat through the water for hours, allowing you to take in your surroundings while listening to the tranquil sound of the poles dipping in and out of the water. Spot hippos bathing in the reeds, elephants wandering around the water's edge to cool off from the hot sun, and gorgeous birds flying overhead.
As you approach your campsite for the evening, locals are waiting for you with cool refreshments and warm smiles. Enjoy a traditional African meal prepared by the locals and then set off for your sunset safari walk and try to spot a lion or two waking up and preparing for a night on the prowl. Watch the reddest, most vibrant sun you've ever seen set on the surrounding plains, casting a warm, orange hue over all you see. This overnight safari adventure is a breathtaking experience you cannot miss.
No matter which country you visit, from Kenya to Tanzania to South Africa, you are sure to come back with hundreds of photos, countless stories, unforgettable memories, and a greater appreciation for the awesome natural landscapes that make Africa so special.
Guest Post written for Eco Companion.
All Images: Rose Huet